On March 13, hundreds of local residents in Akhalkalaki, a town in Georgia’s south-western region of Samtskhe-Javakheti which is predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians, rallied in protest of the withdrawal of the Russian military base stationed in this town.
The rally was organized by the newly set up public movement United Javakhk, which was established on March 10 after several local public organizations united in an attempt, as the founders put it, “to protect the local Armenian population in Javakheti.”
Organizers claimed some 4,000 people gathered at the meeting while local officials said up to 1,500 peopled rallied.
“The main slogans of the protest rally in Akhalkalaki were: ‘Together with Georgia’ and ‘No to Russian Base Pullout',” Edward Avertian of United Javakhk told Civil Georgia on March 13.
Part of the local population in Akhalkalaki is employed at the Russian military base. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on March 11, while commenting on this issue, that “I do not want to create any problems for these people; the Georgian authorities will support them.”